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Baltimore County's first Latino police major Michael Cortes III discusses barrier-breaking promotion

Your Tuesday afternoon news update (9/19/2023)
Your Tuesday afternoon news update (9/19/2023) 02:19

BALTIMORE - Baltimore County Police promoted its first Latino to the position of major.

Maj. Michael Cortes III spoke with WJZ about his barrier-breaking moment and the path he's created for others.

His father was a proud former cop with the New York Police Department.

Now, Cortes is breaking barriers with Baltimore County Police as the first Latino with his rank.

"Dad, I made it, and if it wasn't for you, wouldn't be in the position I'm in now, simple as that," Cortes said.

To understand Maj. Cortes' story, we have to go back to New York City.

Born from first-generation Puerto Rican roots, his dad was an NYPD Highway Patrolman for 18 years, policing in a melting pot of a department of all races.

"I mean, what a foundation of having a father who just loved doing his job and he just made sure everybody knew that, Cortes said.  

Over all these years, working his way through the various ranks, Maj. Cortes spent a lot of time in the Pikesville Precinct where, early on, he fully understood the philosophy of community policing.

"I loved getting out of the patrol car and stopping by the Pikesville Fire House and having breakfast with the firemen and then continuing on and walking across and seeing a couple of rabbis that I may know from previous run-ins," Cortes said.

And that's what makes his promotion so special, pride in policing, coupled with his pride as a father setting the consummate example for his two sons.

"They came to me and said, 'Dad we want to be like you, we want to be a police officer,' and I was like, 'Really, are you sure about this?'" Cortes said. 

The eldest son, Cortes the IV, is set to become a Harford County deputy, and last Thursday he pinned his dad when he was promoted to major.

"It brought me to tears, with my son Thursday night," Cortes said. "He said, Dad, during his interview, that he aspired to be like me.' It meant the world to me."

A barrier-breaker as the first Latino major in Baltimore County but a Hall of Fame dad whose youngest son is set to start basic training on Monday for the very same department, all proud to protect, serve and wear the badge.

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